First Person: The Personal Impact Of Being Racially Profiled By A Neighbor
>>> I am Alyssa Saint John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. This week, we have 2 episodes of our series, first person. Are stories from people in North County. Ike Iloputaife had lived all over the world. Originally from Nigeria, he came to the United States to attend college in Missouri nearly fully -- 40'. After living for years in Providence in the south of France, he moved to Vista in 2017. He says he works -- wash -- waltzes Russian will ponds around his neighborhood. Last month, a neighbor took a photograph of him and his dog the San Diego Union Tribune reported the neighbor told investigators he was a stranger on her street the photograph was then used by the San Diego County shows department identifying him as a person of interest in a burglary investigation. In this episode of first-person, Iloputaife shares what it was like to be charged with the clot a crime because of the color of his skin. >> There is an awareness that black people have around them when they are in public is almost like a six cents. -- When I was in college a couple times, I had people drive their trucks and yell racial slurs at me. It has happened since then in California. It is happened a couple of times it happened once in Vista. We are talking about 0.001% of the people but that still makes one uneasy when it happens. We went on holiday for a few days because -- for my birthday. I came back. The next day, I was driving out of my driveway and one of the neighbors flagged me down and gave me a piece of paper to inform me that I should call the sheriffs department and clear my name because my dogs and myself have appeared on the camera of some neighbor and I am a person suspect in a burglary. I laughed and I said, okay, when I get to where I am going, I will call the sheriffs department this is my first encounter with law enforcement. I do not know how they handle things in general. They have not handled it very well in this case. When they received the photograph, they could've gone around the neighborhood and asked if they have seen that person I do not think they did that. If they had done that, a lot of people have seen me in the neighborhood because it was not the first time I walked up the street they got the photograph and the only way they took me for a suspect is my skin color. Suspect number two matches six foot -- 6 feet 5 inches. I am 5 9. This person had taken the photograph I do not know if she shared it or she had a post there that she had taken down the door I got to but this might be forgot to but they were referring to her question and people asked what made people -- you think this was a suspect. Whatever her responses were, they were already removed by the time I got to them. I do not know why they took the photograph. What I do know is the final product, what they use the photograph or. That tells me that is what he took the photograph, that I was a stranger in their neighborhood and a person that does not longer. They wanted to keep an eye on the there have been a lot of people showing up, befriended me, sent me friend requests. One wonderful woman, a family, had posted a picture of her son. He is Haitian and black, very tall, 16 years old. She had posted it on the same site. She said that yes, her son has the same skin color as the people who did the robbery and if they see her son, please do not call the police. So after the report came out, in the newspaper, the next day, she found my address and came down with her son and her daughter. They brought me cookies. I'm sorry. That is humanity. That is it. That meant a lot. It meant a lot. That has told me so much. That is one story. There are also the others who have defended me right and left. They have been great. I am crying not from sadness. I am crying out of the love I have felt from the neighbors. I would like people to think before they act. To look at a situation as a whole instead of as a separate piece. I would like people, when you see something unfolding, look at the scene. Do not look at the person. Do not that the do not look at the color of the person. That is the only way a neighborhood wash different watch can be effective. Otherwise you will have the same thing happen over and over again. When we look at the color of somebody's skin instead of what actually they are doing. >> That was Ike Iloputaife of Vista, talking about his experience of being racially profiled and winding up as a suspect in a burglary. He is asking the sheriffs department to publicly apologize and clear his name. As of airtime, the sheriff has not responded to questions about whether that happened. This first-person episode was produced by Megan Burke.
Ike Iloputaife has lived all over the world. Originally from Nigeria, he first came to the United States to attend college in Missouri nearly 40 years ago. After years of living in Provence in the south of France, he moved to Vista in 2017. Each morning he said he walks his Russian wolfhounds around his hilly Vista neighborhood.
Last month, a neighbor took a photograph of him and his dogs. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the neighbor told investigators that he was a “stranger” on her street. The photograph was then used by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department identifying him as a “person of interest” in a burglary investigation.
"This is my first encounter with law enforcement so I don't know how they handle things in general. But they haven't handled it very well in this case," Iloputaife said.
Iloputaife said two different people from the sheriff’s department called him to apologize for including his photo in the burglary investigation after he shared his story publicly. He said he asked that the sheriff publicly apologize and clear his name in a press release. As of the time this story was published, the sheriff's department had not responded to questions about whether that had happened.
"I would like people to think before they act," Iloputaife said. "When you see a scene unfolding, look at the scene don't look at the person, don't look at the color of the person. That's the only way neighborhood watch is going to be effective otherwise we're going to just have this misidentification happen over and over and over again when we look at the color of somebody's skin instead of what actually they are doing."
As part of the Midday Edition series, First Person, Iloputaife talks about what it was like to be suspected of a crime because of the color of his skin.